Many non-human primates have been observed to reciprocate and to understand reciprocity in one-to-one social exchanges. A recent study demonstrated that capuchin monkeys are sensitive to both third-party reciprocity and violation of reciprocity; however, whether this sensitivity is a function of general intelligence, evidenced by their larger brain size relative to other primates, remains unclear. We hypothesized that highly pro-social primates, even with a relatively smaller brain, would be sensitive to others' reciprocity. Here, we show that common marmosets discriminated between human actors who reciprocated in social exchanges with others and those who did not. Monkeys accepted rewards less frequently from non-reciprocators than they did from reciprocators when the non-reciprocators had retained all food items, but they accepted rewards from both actors equally when they had observed reciprocal exchange between the actors. These results suggest that mechanisms to detect unfair reciprocity in third-party social exchanges do not require domain-general higher cognitive ability based on proportionally larger brains, but rather emerge from the cooperative and pro-social tendencies of species, and thereby suggest this ability evolved in multiple primate lineages.
Keywords: marmoset; reciprocity; social exchange; social preference; third-party relationships.
© 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.